Thursday 19 September 2013

Off come the Training Wheels (regarding Client Contact)...

At the conclusion of our first month as full-fledged ‘students-at-law’, there have been many firsts for us articling students: the first time we successfully printed off a batch of labels, the first time we discovered that must-eat treat in the PATH (Prairie Girl cupcakes are both the best and ‘worst’ thing that have ever happened to me), or the first time we figured out how to set multiple timers on the computer docketing system. I have to say, however, that the most memorable first was also one of the most frightening: my first file working directly with a client as the main contact.

"McCague Borlack is exceptionally open to allowing its students to interact with clients..."

Let me explain. McCague Borlack is exceptionally open to allowing its students to interact with clients, whether it be via email or in person at a firm event. When I summered with the firm last year, I was in constant communication with clients, providing them with updates on files or assessments on the chances of success of a file; however, all of those missives went through a vetting process with an associate or partner at the firm before I hit ‘send’.

Last week I was introduced via telephone to a client whose file I would be handling. The lawyer told the client my name, where I had gone to school (Queen’s pride, woo), and that I would be their direct contact for the file going forward. What was so unique about this most recent interaction was that the next time I communicated with the client, I would be doing it without the safety net of a supervising lawyer. By that I mean, my supervising lawyer will still be available to discuss the file and answer any and all questions, however, I will be the face of the firm for the client.

Fortunately, we were in the lawyer’s office when this news was announced, and not at a client meeting, so I had the opportunity to get over my initial trepidation prior to meeting the client face to face. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to work with this person and have the opportunity to take on more responsibility at the office. It was just…like riding a bike without training wheels for the first time: exhilarating and terrifying. Now that I’ve had a few days to let the knowledge settle in, that I am the person this client will contact with questions or information about the file, I’ve become much more exhilarated than terrified (which, incidentally, was the same for the bike ride).

As I write this, I have a settlement conference coming up with this same client, where I will meet them face to face and represent them before a deputy judge. I am determined that I will be prepared, professional, and poised when this happens.
Kati A.